Of beef and barley: Why China and Australia are feuding—and what it means for the U.S. trade war

China dealt a blow to Australian farmers when it confirmed it will place an 80.5% tariff on Australian barley imports starting Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday.

The tariffs escalate already-high tensions between China and Australia that began in April when Australia called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan, China.

Both sides argue publicly that the trade spat is just that: a lingering disagreement about barley prices that stretches back to 2018. That rhetoric reflects the traditional nature of Beijing-Canberra relations, which have long separated trade from politics.

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